I thought I’d dip my toes in the water into the world of PSVR once more with Ski Jumping Pro VR from Kalypso Media, only to end up faceplanting the snow, and landing with broken ankles. Ok, so the latter isn’t accurate, and you don’t see this sort of havoc in the game, but is it the encouragement I need to start my elusive Winter Olympics dream?
The PSVR headset has had a focal point in our living room for a good couple of weeks now, and the gimmick thankfully hasn’t worn off. There have been no reports of motion sickness, zero signs of my Qing dynasty vase collection on the floor and more than enough photos and videos of friends and family looking like morons that I can use in future Snapchat blackmail campaigns. Ski Jumping Pro VR is no exception: even my non-gaming wife got on the slopes and demonstrated her skills.
One of the best things about Ski Jumping Pro VR is the accessibility for anyone to play as the controls are simple, a bit like another VR simulator, VR Ping Pong Pro. While there’s plenty of room for error, it doesn’t discriminate with where the player goes as there’s only one direction: down. At the start of the jump, you’ll have a countdown for when to pull off the best launch. To do this, pull down on the analogue sticks and off you go. Once you pick up speed, you’ll find that the jumper will pull to one side so to balance this out you can tilt the controller to the left or right accordingly. The next step is for the actual take-off, and this involves pointing the sticks in a V formation; the left in an 11 o’clock position, the right set to 1 o’clock. Hold this position for a bit, and then you can either pull back down on the sticks, as per the launch, or you can hold down L1 and R1 to perform an alternative landing. That’s all there is to it. There is Move controller support, but I didn’t use at the time of the review. Now for the actual experience.
From the outset, Ski Jumping Pro VR has you ‘in the zone’ as it does feel quite high up. Cue the usual noob approach of looking around at the spectators on a platform above and those below, waving to each one to no effect. You can even see your breath from the chill in the air. When you fire off from the starting point, that’s where it gets a bit ropey as the feeling is quite disorientating. Not in a nauseous way, but I found that my legs were shaking a little – either because I can’t stand for more than five seconds, or because my slight fear of heights was giving me the collywobbles. To adopt a numbskull alpha male technique, I was also squatting a little to give the impression that I was going faster, but it had the desired effect as I felt I was going fast and lost my bearings a few times.
Launch and the actual jump were all fine; you can even have a looksie around when airborne without worrying about hitting the deck. Unfortunately, while a simple technique, I found the landings to be a little flat. That’s not a play on words, I just couldn’t really land behind the target lines without falling over, or landing perfectly, but a little short of the goal. Timing is critical in this sense as you need to have a sufficient amount of speed to get airborne in the first place, then land without kissing the floor. When you do land, you don’t seem to glide to the very end where the spectators are usually gathered. You almost come to a complete halt, which felt a bit weird. There are ample opportunities to perfect your skill, though, as you can do a practice run, and this informs you of all the best times to jump, etc.
So that’s the virtual reality side, here’s the actual reality side: it’s a ski jumping game. What does that mean? Well, all you’ll be doing is sliding down the piste, jumping off and landing for the highest score. There are no slaloms, Tony Hawk 900º spins or even indoor slopes. While this was a great party game where everyone wanted to have a turn, once you’ve done a few jumps, there’s not much else to do. Sure, you can keep doing a run hoping for a better score, but it’s the same thing on every level. No doubt the locations are true to their real-life counterparts, but it’s just a slope. I’m not expecting mini-ramps, lakes of fire or coins to collect, but there isn’t much variety, and therefore you will have seen everything in the first 10 minutes, albeit, within a different location.
After each jump you are rewarded with a reply but to be honest, it doesn’t work. The shots aren’t dynamic and don’t offer anything new to the jump you just did. When playing the game, you feel the rush, but from an external camera, it doesn’t provide much excitement like a Gran Turismo or Ride 3 replay would offer 1) because the course isn’t long enough and 2) the camera angles are far too disconnected. An over-the-shoulder shot or a camera underneath the player when airborne would be a good touch. It’s very superficial to the game as it’s over in seconds, but was a bit of a poor experience.
Setting aside the variety of slopes and naff camera angles, there is an abundance of customisation on offer. With the quick launch game mode, it’s a no-frills arcade game that anyone can pick up. With the campaign mode, you take part in competitive jumps to improve your stats and earn more money through winning, obviously, and sponsorship. With all this hard-earned cash, you can buy new gear that enhances your performance and, well, looks good. I know nothing about the sport nor the brands, but if you’re into this scene, chances are you’ll be impressed with what’s available. Again, there are plenty of locations, and while they don’t look the same; some of them are at night, others during the day, they still feel the same. That is, you’re going to slide down a big jump and pull off some air, land and then get appraised. If you go the campaign route, you could effectively finish it in one sitting.
If you can finish the game so quickly, you’d think the replay value would be limited. Not so much. Once you complete Ski Jumping Pro VR, you can go through and do a new mode, unlock more items, that sort of thing. From my perspective, the replay value was the social aspect and having others play. It’s not a multiplayer, but fun to hand the reins to someone new to VR or even if they’re not a gamer at all. In that scenario, I’d say Ski Jumping Pro VR is more of a novelty then. It doesn’t have the longevity or variety to continue playing, but considering the actual sport, I don’t think there’s much more they could do to improve it. The graphics are very good, as are the sound effects, but the best part of all is the experience – it does feel fun to hurtle down the slope and come out with zero injuries, other than spilling your beer on the dog again.
If I am to recommend Ski Jumping Pro VR for PSVR, then it would be based on it being played with friends and family; taking turns and having a mini competition on who is best. At the full retail price, I can’t actively endorse it unless you’re an avid ski jump fan, or ok with the fact that you’ll finish it faster than sliding down a ski slope while wearing a big plastic helmet. Perhaps wait for a sale before making the jump.
Ski Jumping Pro VR PSVR Review
Ski Jumping Pro VR doesn’t take the piste in its approach in this ski jumping simulator as the experience is present, as is the presentation. It just feels more of a demo on what the PSVR can serve as the gameplay is a bit shortlived.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.
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